Friday, July 21, 2006

Open Letter In Support of California's State Standards

Open Letter (not written by me--Darren)

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger and Members of the California Legislature;

In an open letter dated July 7, 2006, former governors Gray Davis and Pete Wilson expressed unambiguous support for California's K-12 academic content standards, curriculum frameworks, instructional materials, and tests aligned to the standards. They warned that dismantling California's system for K-12 education would be "a disastrous step backward." The excerpts below express key points from the governors' letter:

Standards provide a measure of excellence regardless of one’s skin color, family income, or zip code. We took a standards-based approach in California because we believe that if we set expectations high, students will respond. Not every child will fully meet the challenge, but all will benefit from the effort.

A standards-and-assessments approach means that no matter which neighborhood or region of the state a child is from, that child should be held to the same high expectations. It means that we will not give up on some children by building a less rigorous program for them. To do so would mean holding them back and limiting their future.

To provide those children a lesser academic challenge would be to insult them and might well cheat them out of realizing their full potential. Instead, when children begin school, we should address whatever deficits in academic readiness they may bring to the classroom through early and effective remedial attention -- not by creating an educational apartheid of lesser standards.

Standards also provide a way to measure progress and base decisions on objective evidence, not education fads. And they provide a measurable way to show how California’s public schools are improving over time.

...The essential ingredients -- the core content standards, curriculum frameworks, instructional materials, and tests aligned to the standards -- are now all in place and provide solid cornerstones for the work that must take place in schools across our great state. For a number of years now, students, parents, educators, and governors have known what is expected, what progress has been made, and what shortcomings still exist. These cornerstones provide much needed stability -- more stability than California schools have known in decades...

Having rigorous academic standards does not by itself guarantee that the teaching, textbooks, and student effort needed to meet those standards will be there. But the absence of such standards would undoubtedly guarantee that far too many of our schools and our children would fail to fulfill their potential.

Further steps need to be taken to make sure that each student who enrolls in a California public school receives a high quality education which prepares that student for success in a rapidly changing world. But through California’s rigorous academic standards and accountability system, the foundation is solidly in place.

Undoing California’s present high academic standards would be a disastrous step backward. It would leave far too many children woefully unprepared for the challenges and demands they will face in today’s ever more fiercely competitive global marketplace.

We agree with these views of Governor Davis and Governor Wilson. College preparedness depends in large measure on the integrity of K-12 academic standards and assessment. As faculty members of California's colleges and universities, we strongly urge you to support the continuation of California's K-12 education policies, including the academic content standards, curriculum frameworks, instructional materials, and tests aligned to the standards.

Sincerely (Signers are listed alphabetically),

Read the details and the identities of the signatories here.

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